If the next person to come up to you asked you to sing and dance in front of the Coho tomorrow afternoon, would you do it? Do you think your future self would do it? Judging from a recent study, many people would agree, but chicken out at the last minute due to an “illusion of courage” resulting from the empathy gap, or the tendency for people to underestimate their own behavior and future actions when they are not emotionally aroused compared to when they are.
The study involved two groups of university undergraduate students who were asked if they would participate in an embarrassing activity in the immediate and distant future. Students whose emotions were stimulated by a scary or angry movie and were more in touch with the emotions of social anxiety immediately declined. Those who were asked outright were more willing to participate in the immediate future, but opted out within the next five days, suggesting an overestimation of their willingness to engage in embarrassing situations.
However, we’re not all destined to be chickens. People who had just finished exercising were more willing to participate than those who had not begun their workout. The increase in confidence and reduction in anxiety through exercise demonstrated a reverse in the patterns scientists observed prior. Just going to show how exercise can give you the extra boost of confidence and self-awareness to overcome your “inner chicken.”
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